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  • Fly to: Santiago, Chile

  • Internal Transfer: Santiago - Cohaique

  • Visa required: Not if British

  • Currency:Chilean Peso

  • Time Zone:-3hrs GMT

  • Journal:Click here

Patagonia Northern Icecap

Day 1 - 04/11/07

Flight from San Paulo to Santiago, once again we had no delays and once again we slept for the duration. Attempted to watch a bit of Die Hard 4 but soon got bored and fell asleep.

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Day 2 - 05/11/07

Up early to catch our flight to Balmaceda (Ooo starting to get excited about what lies ahead!), the flight seemed endless; 4hrs with 2 stops. During the 1st stop the plane was delayed an extra hour on the runway, Nicki was sound asleep (she'd obviously read another 4 pages of Bear Ghryls!).

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Day 3 - 06/11/07

Today was spent doing some navigation work, wilderness first aid lessons oh and 'reading out loud'. Jeez who'd have thought after discovering this problem I'd have to travel all the way to Patagonia to finally have it exposed in the company of others!

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Day 4 - 07/11/07

Today was spent sorting out our food rations and after a quick lesson on expedition food we began. The others weighed out all of our supplies, gorp (good ol' raisins & peanuts!), carbs, dog biscuits, sauces, drinks etc while I peeled salami and chopped cheese in the kitchen.

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Day 5 - 08/11/07

This was our last day at base camp, the food rations were divided into 3's and packed; all outstanding gear was to be purchased/collected locally. Nicki had to hire a backpack (110L) because hers was too small

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Day 6 - 09/11/07

Left base camp & drove to the landslide, the drop-off point at the beginning of our adventure; we attached the sharps (ice axe, snowshoes, shovels, snow anchors) to the outside of our packs.

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Day 7 - 10/11/07

OMG, OMG, OMG! I can't believe Ariel's snoring, flippin 'ell that is something else! Even the earplugs were no match for the force; the vacuum it created within the tent was so powerful it was literally sucking our earplugs clean out!

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Day 8 - 11/11/07

10:00am start this morning, Ian commented on how loud the snoring was last night; you really don't have to tell us! Had a big river crossing today which involved us each scouting up/down the valley to find a suitable crossing spot.

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Day 9 - 12/11/07

Woke up at 5:30am and left camp at 7:30am. This was the morning Ariel's alarm repeatedly rang, getting louder & louder, shredding each remaining nerve one by one!

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Day 10 - 13/11/07

Packed up & left camp at 8:00am this morning, ascended along the same route as yesterday, travelling approx 100m past the stash onto the snowline. Dropped our load and then headed back down to the stash to collect the rest of the gear.

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Day 11 - 14/11/07

Left the tents pitched, and headed out at 8:00am for a day learning snow skills. Weather was gorgeous and we covered snow anchors, the 4 ways to self-arrest, practiced glacial roping up. Ariel was clearly attempting to replicate a giant caterpillar in her attempts to start a slide from which to arrest, bet she's glad she's got her go-faster helmet on!?.

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Day 12 - 15/11/07

Up at 3:30am this morning, Nic & myself packed up the tent leaving Ariel to just concentrate on packing her backpack; Ben then came up and suggested Ariel re-pack her bag, this then progressed into him repacking it for her.

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Day 13 - 16/11/07

Whoop whoop a lie-in, up at 8:00am this morning. After the arduous task of digging up our snow chutes and knocking down the hard built wall (satisfying in a sadistic kind of way); we were still faced with the dilemma of how on earth we were going to get off this slope.

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Day 14 - 17/11/07

Up at 3:10am, Ariel made breakfast (hmm perhaps things were changing); once again we were the last to eat and no drinks had been made, so we decided to just concentrate on gobbling our food (after all it would only confuse Ariel and take way too long).

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Day 15 - 18/11/07

Got up at about 9:30am this morning in order to pack up camp and debrief before being picked up by the boat. The Zodiac boat finally arrived at 12:45pm. Jaya, Ariel, Nic & I were in the first boat with our packs positioned at the front.

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Day 16 - 19/11/07

Stayed in Bertrund today & at 10:00am Ariel caught the bus back to Coyhaique; after which the rest of us went down to the river for an hour and then returned to the hostel to cook and rinse clothes etc.

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Day 17 - 20/11/07

Early start of 4:00am in order to catch the boat at 6:15am. The boat ride across the lake was beautiful, lots of stunning waterfalls. Evans slept the whole boat trip and I think everyone else was pretty tired.

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Day 18 - 21/11/07

The agenda for today was for the two lads to lead us up to the Astancia, we left camp at 8:00am for the long walk. The temperature hit about 35 degrees and with the mosquitoes for company every step of the way this proved slightly distressing.

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Day 19 - 22/11/07

Ian & I were leading today and we set off along a well established path, hell it even had the occasional arrow and bridge, what a novelty! Unfortunately this luxury didn't last long, the minute we'd crossed the river the path disappeared.

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Day 20 - 23/11/07

Up at 3:45 this morning, Nicki & Evans were leading; the days' task was to take the 25day food bags along with some technical gear up to the glacial wall, cash it and return back to the camp for the night.

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Day 21 - 24/11/07

3:30am start this morning in order to be packed up and leaving by 5:30am. Dale & I were at the helm today, should be straight forward as we're simply going the same way as yesterday. The pace was excellent and we made good progress

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Day 22 - 25/11/07

9:00am start today, mountaineering school lessons. Learning how to set up a crevasse rescue; backpacks were used as dummies and thrown over the edge.

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Day 23 - 26/11/07

Lessons this morning; then we roped up to take a look at a possible route over the firn line. I was 4th on the 1st rope team with Ben (1), Ian (2) & Dale (3). We reached the top edge of the firn line but soon turned back; the ground was getting pretty soft.

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Day 24 - 27/11/07

2:15am weather check; weather was too bad to make the ascent onto the glacier. Last night the weather was exceptionally windy & the tent took a battering.

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Day 25 - 28/11/07

Up at 2:15am for a weather check; this was unsuccessful as there still hadn't been a freeze. Ian made pancakes for breakfast and then we all got out for wilderness first aid classes.

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Day 26 - 29/11/07

2:15am weather check; still no freeze, however it was decided that we should pack up camp and hope the temperature would drop closer to dawn. We packed up and luckily a slight crust had formed over the snow, this was enough to make us start our ascent up to the firn line.

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Day 27 - 30/11/07

2:15am weather check, Ben was in a bad mood, swearing that we weren't quick enough out of the tents; like we were really going to go anywhere today?! Hmm I think not.

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Day 28 - 31/11/07

Ian's day in charge; weather check at 2:15am, again the weather was too severe to move. Lessons again in the boy's tent, where we were entertained for what seemed like an eternity with the 'story of William' - OMG! Plucking my eyelashes would have seemed less painful by comparison.

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Day 29 - 01/12/07

Nic at the helm today, 2:15am weather check - it's a no go; weather still horrific. She didn't sleep well last night & I awoke to her and Ian discussing their worries about the North to South route.

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Day 30 - 02/12/07

My day in charge had arrived and I had nothing to worry about because at the 2:15am weather check it was clear we weren't moving anywhere. In fact I'd already been up for an hour because I was already outside digging out our tent.

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Day 31 - 03/12/07

In the early hours, probably about 4:00am; it was my turn to dig out, all's I could do was sit up and comment (rather vocally) that I couldn't face going back out; couldn't face putting on the wet, stiff goretex & picking up that cold shovel in an attempt to throw snow over what seemed like a skyscraper only to have the damn stuff get blown straight back in my eyes!!

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Day 32 - 04/12/07

Still miffed about the where-abouts of my camera, adding to the frustration was the nagging thought that it couldn't be lost because we'd left nothing behind. I think it's more to do with the thought that you want to check your bag but to go outside & do that is such a distressing task.

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Day 33 - 05/12/07

Back up to the snowline today (though this time blessed with empty packs), we'd left camp at 7:15am and Ian's pace was blistering. When we stopped for a breather he apologised & said it was 100% because he was annoyed that we were late leaving (Evans!).

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Day 34 - 06/12/07

Ian & I led this morning, it was the same route we'd followed up the solei valley; the temperature was hot and both the horsefly & mosquitoes were rife. We had a good path for the majority of the way, but as confidence grew our paths visibility diminished; subsequently...both the confidence & the path disappeared altogether.

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Day 35 - 07/12/07

Everyone was packed up ready to leave camp at 7:00am this morning; unfortunately Evans was nowhere to be seen. Turns out he had to do an 'emergency poo', whatever one of those is, therefore making both him and Dale late.

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Day 36 - 08/12/07

Nic & Dale resumed the leadership today and we were all up & out early; before schedule actually! The pace was again good this morning and we were on target for our beach pick-up. Ben told us the delightful fisherman's story and again it went on, and on and on - OMG!

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Day 37 - 09/12/07

Woke up nice and warm having slept like a log; breakfast consisted of three little bread rolls (the littlest rolls I've ever seen!) and a selection of jams; it was delicious but once again the food merely left me hungry for more; the pit of my stomach ached as whale cries resonated from within.

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Day 38 - 10/12/07

Today was spent ice climbing in a Moulin; it was pretty enjoyable though towards the end of the day being confined in the same hole was getting slightly monotonous. I was itching to get out & wander; we were in such a beautiful environment it seemed a shame to stay in one place.

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Day 39 - 11/12/07

The day began with one wet boot - ah this was not going to be good. The wind was howling across the glacier and we were in the same Moulin as yesterday. Today we practiced crevasse ascending & descending, escaping a belay & tandem abseils.

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Day 40 - 12/12/07

Woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain and gusting winds; it was decided that we'd therefore spend the morning in our tent having lessons (physics of climbing, snow formation & altitude sickness).

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Day 41 - 13/12/07

After 4 nights here this morning we finally packed up camp to head off the glacier; I felt totally deflated, playing about yesterday was like the beginning of a new adventure and I wasn't ready for it to end.

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Day 42 - 14/12/07

Woke up to a breakfast of scrambled eggs - Nic stylie & salty streaky bacon al la Ian; cholesterol levels rocketing now to new realms! Wilderness first aid lessons this morning: splints, moving people & bleeds; followed by a short test.

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Day 43 - 15/12/07

Pancakes for Breakfast, Ian's speciality! We then sorted out all our gear, washing both equipment and tents, then packed up our clothes for the last time. At approximately midday we left base camp for the last time, heading to a hostel in Coyhaique.

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